Taylor Hall knows that he has absorbed way too many nuclear hits in his career. The Edmonton Oilers star literally told me this over the summer when I interviewed him for a feature in our annual Yearbook:
"You get injured a few times and you start to look in the mirror," he said. "The biggest way to contribute is to hit the scoresheet, so maybe you don't skate into the corner going a million miles an hour anymore."
So far this season, Hall has lived up to that code, suiting up in all 43 games so far for the Oilers and leading the squad with 41 points. But it's not just the corners Hall has to worry about – open ice can be just as dangerous, as he found out against the Panthers on Sunday:
Yeeowch. Was that a suicide pass by good buddy Leon Draisaitl? I wouldn't go that far; the German sophomore made a quick move to get the puck up ice, basically no-looking it. And really, it's not like Hall had time to get his head up. In this case, Gudbranson just clocked him clean in a situation involving bad timing (if you're Hall).
The fact Gudbranson's stick gets tangled up in Hall makes the Oilers star look a lot worse in the aftermath, but either way – that's not a hit I'd line up to take from a big, nasty NHL defenseman.